By Hugh Maclean
ROUND 1 REVIEW
What if they held a season opener and nobody came?
Whilst it wasn’t quite as dramatically definite as that, nobody expected the climatic conditions that our fair city brought to bear. Play on the first day of the 2018 season was restricted by the whistling wind and the thumping rain to just over half a game in the opening timeslot, upon which the court organisers mercifully left players and watchers alike to retire to their warm homes and hot baths. Therefore, this scribe has been asked to craft this weeks’ column whilst saying rather little. Many will say that they can’t tell the difference...
The top division did kick off, with the main attraction being the first of the season’s clashes of the titans, as Dingley took on Heatherton. And such was the difficulty of the conditions that the first quarter was completely scoreless. Both sides did well to control the ball under the pressure applied by the defences but found the task of finishing inside the circle nigh-on impossible. The scorers were roused from their slumber in the second term as the cut and thrust continued, but the scoreline was restricted to 2-2 at half time. Here, however, is where the fun began. Nat Billings and Bella Riddell converted twice for the Tunners in the opening two minutes of the second half... and that was it. Play was abandoned and given that the game was more than half completed, the score stands. Heatherton therefore completed their eighth straight victory over their old rivals and took their first four competition points of the season.
It is almost impossible to read anything into this result, as it is with last years’ other finalists, Caulfield and Keysborough. Court one is the most exposed court in the complex, and the wind was such that it was not unusual for those shooting, especially at the northern end, to find the ball missing the target and sailing back over their shoulders. Shooting to the marginally less difficult end, Keysborough took a 4-1 lead to the opening break, and Tara Bickham in particular did a great job in leading the Burras to six breaches of the near-impregnable northern goal in the second term. Caulfield meanwhile began to make merry, with the Domica Wescombe-led mid-court creating enough opportunities for the Bears to go in level at 10-10. As with the previous match though, Sophie O’Shea proved to be the circuit breaker with the only goal in the shortened second half, giving Keysborough disappointment and Caulfield the points in an 11-10 victory.
Court three saw the two newcomers to the division come together, as Hampton Park made their SFNL debut against Mordialloc. Both sides showed enough to suggest that they will not be out of place at the top table this season. Megan Egbers and Elly Anthony were on the mark early for the Park, finishing off some fine patterns of play from those further afield. However, as the game progressed Sophie Durnan began to run the show for Mordialloc, and in Emily Morris and Lucy McKeown they had shooters that were not about to spurn the chances that were offered. A 5-5 quarter time scoreline was converted into a Mordialloc 14-7 half time lead, and one further goal in the third term meant that the final score was Mordialloc 15, Hampton Park 7.
The final match of the round saw two largely reconstructed teams face off in St Pauls and St Kilda City. St Pauls took control of this game from early on and established a 9-4 quarter time lead. The mid-court led by Adele Gilmore and Tayla Walsh worked hard for St Pauls to feed their shooters, as the City newcomers battled the elements to find their combinations. The City girls showed plenty in the second quarter to give them hope that they would be a match for the more fancied sides in this league, and St Pauls were only to add one to their margin to lead 18-12 at the main break. The one goal in the abridged third term meant that St Pauls completed a 19-12 first round win.
The curtailment of the days’ play meant that of the other competitions, only Divisions 3, 8 and 9 began and as with Division 1, games were restricted to just over a half. In division three, Lyndale took control early against Mordialloc and stood strong for a 9-7 victory, St Kilda City dominated after an even start to beat Black Rock 8-2, Dingley led all the way before emerging victorious by 14-5, and Bentleigh and Hampton Park scored freely before Bentleigh ran out winners by 21-13.
Division 8 saw Springvale Districts trail by only two at quarter time, but it was all Lyndale after that as they won by 17-5. Elsewhere Dingley led early against Oakleigh District and were too strong to be defeated, triumphing by 14-4. Hallam were a little too slick for Keysborough, winning by 8-3, while Lyndhurst and Highett shared the four first quarter goals before Lyndhurst took control, winning by 11-2.
In Division 9 Dingley defeated Dandenong by way of forfeit, Black Rock were always in control in beating Springvale Districts by 14-6, Lyndhurst kept Clayton to one solitary goal while scoring 11 themselves, and South Yarra recovered from a 7-5 first term deficit in drawing 10-10 with Heatherton.
So the 2018 netball season is underway, at least for some of us! Well done to all that braved the elements last Saturday – here’s hoping that we won’t need snorkels next week!!!